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Santa Rosa has submitted its bid to host the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race for a sixth year, again with a downtown finish and carnival as the preferred option.

"We have the history down there, we have a huge daytime population, we have a large interest from the merchants," said Raissa de la Rosa, Santa Rosa economic development specialist. "And we have gotten so much response from the citizens of Santa Rosa and Windsor and all over who think it would be ridiculous to take it away from downtown."

The proposal, submitted Friday, includes as alternatives routes around Roseland, around A Place to Play ball fields in west Santa Rosa and in the hills of Fountaingrove.

Although it's likely the tour segment that would end in Santa Rosa would start elsewhere, local organizers also proposed a challenging 134-mile loop that would start and finish in Santa Rosa.

That route would take the racers through the Russian River and Dry Creek valleys, over Skaggs Springs Road to the coast, south on Highway 1 to Carmet and over Coleman Valley Road to Occidental and on to Santa Rosa.

"It pulls elements of the high-profile rides we offer in Sonoma County," said Dave Guhin, Santa Rosa's deputy director of engineering services. "You have the coast, you have the mountains, you have the vineyards .<TH>.<TH>. it would be a spectacular route."

Guhin said that route is simply titled "Epic" and meant to give tour owner AEG something to think about for the future.

"We don't want to be the stagnant city that comes back with the same footprint every year. We want to spice it up for the tour," Guhin said.

De la Rosa and Guhin are co-chairmen of the local organizing committee that put the proposal together.

The tour has evolved over its five-year history into the premiere U.S. cycling event, drawing top international cyclists and cycling teams to a week-long, 800-mile race through California.

Although AEG, a Los Angeles sports company, seeks to highlight different parts of the state each year, Santa Rosa's downtown has been the only location featured in all five races.

The event has drawn as many as 35,000 spectators to downtown Santa Rosa, but the rain-soaked race last May, which was held on a work day, drew only 7,000.

Still, the race fills Sonoma County hotels and means big business for restaurants, cafes and bars, while giving Sonoma County exposure in the nationally televised event.

"It's huge on so many fronts, chief among them the tangible economic impact," said Greg Fisher of Bike Monkey magazine. "The big thing is the branding of this area as a cycling destination. This is recognition on a world stage of this world class event."

Fisher is an organizer of Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge Granfondo, scheduled for Oct. 9, in which 6,000 cyclists are participating.

It will contribute about $60,000 toward the $200,000 that must be raised through sponsorships or private donations to put on the tour event. De la Rosa said $30,000 in pledges have been made so far.

Local organizers also are required to provide 400 hotel rooms over two nights and 1,220 meals to the cycling teams, AEG and staff.

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or bob.norberg@pressdemocrat.com.